Jakob Keizer – Vocals / Synths / Modulators
Nolan Head – Drums
Autumn Day – Guitar
Brett Tomsett – Guitar
Gabe Kangas – Bass
2. To Traipse Alone
3. This Listless World
5. Useless is the song of Man, From Throats Calloused by Name
6. A Shout that bursts through the Silence of Unmeaning
7. (The Angels Are Lost)
8. The Arrows of Our Ways
It seems significant that Seattle metal band, Izthmi have listed “noise/ambient” among what appears to be an otherwise likely set of heavy influences. They make sure to genre-check progressive black metal and doom as well, which sets a reasonable expectation of where the music will take us once the initial atmospherics of Chasm have advanced from the mists of radio static and creeping synths.
When the inevitable, strident riff of To Traipse Along smashes through the ambience, it doesn’t take long for the music to take another sharp turn – an unexpected shift to an acoustic guitar that demonstrates Izthmi’s skillful grasp of dynamics and indicates the band have set their course for a less-charted route across the heavy metal landscape.
Despite this acoustic embellishment, Gabe Kangas maintains an overdriven, low end fuzz. Keizer’s vocal is never less than monstrous and it isn’t long before the returning riffs dominate – but from an early point in proceedings, Izthmi have assuredly shown there is more to them than standard, black metal fare. Their description of left-field influences seems completely justified and as things progress another unexpected quality emerges. Something of a yearning warmth that pervades the music. A melancholy positivity that simmers beneath the savagery, only fully exposing itself on the penultimate track when the words of Auschwitz survivor, Viktor Frankl are read aloud from his memoir:
“Love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire… The salvation of man is through love and in love… A man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.”
Frankl’s noble spirit in the face of unimaginable horror gives overall form to this record. For all the discord contained in the blackened turmoil; for all the aggression that is being channelled and exorcised across these songs, there is an aspiration towards something connective and positive. Make no mistake, this album will get you headbanging but repeated listens reveal a pensive optimism contained in the uplifting solos and searing melodies as they weave through the otherwise pugnacious arrangements.
The appropriately titled, Interlude is a reflective pause in the turmoil. A moment that eschews black metal’s nihilism and offers the listener a meditation.
None of the above is intended to suggest a fragility too delicate to carry the imposing weight of heavy metal. I will reiterate that Izthmi are just as brutal as the genre requires. Jakob Keizer impresses with a mixture of snarling aggression, which he sinks to an effective, guttural bellow when required. Autumn Day and Brett Tomsett layer their parts and make full use of the twin guitars for both melody and force. Underneath it all, the rhythm section (Gabe Kangas and Nolan Head) propel each song forward with dexterity and power.
Together the musicians peak on the climatic title track, The Arrows Of Our Ways. It’s a traditionally blackened blast that pulls in some triumphant prog’ influenced guitar lines. Ultimately, it’s a satisfying and breathless conclusion to an album that is well worth some attention.